Ovia To Emerge Zenith Bank Chairman
There are strong indications that if all calculations remain unchanged, the Board of Directors of Zenith Bank Plc may announce the former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, as the new chairman of the financial institution before the end of this week.
Ovia is expected to take over from the current chairman of the bank, Mr. Steve Omojafor.
A reliable industry source who disclosed this to THISDAY said the appointment of Ovia would be confirmed and ratified by the Board of Directors at a meeting scheduled to hold tomorrow.
However, the source said Omojafor would remain on the board as a director since he still has two years to the end of his tenure.
THISDAY had in May last year, predicted that Ovia would return to the bank as chairman this year.
Ovia retired from Zenith Bank on July 31, 2010.
However, his return as the chairman of the bank is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN’s) rule on tenure limit for bank CEOs which stipulates that a former bank chief can only hold board positions in any bank or its subsidiaries three years after their exit expires.
In 2010, the central bank had enforced a guideline that stipulates a 10-year limit for banks' chief executive officers. The CBN had at the time explained that the move was taken in order to enhance corporate governance in banks.
By the regulation, no managing director is allowed to serve for more than two terms of five years each.
The former Zenith Bank boss who is the founder of the bank is also the founder of Visafone Communications Limited. He is the chairman of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI) and also chairman, National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC).
He is also involved in the construction of the upscale 150-room Marriot Hotel, which is scheduled for completion this year.
Some financial market experts said the return of the former bank chief would be a positive development for the market.
The CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, had said: "I have never subscribed to the fact that the owner of a business should be separated from the business. As long as there is corporate governance, I strongly believe that it will be a welcome development.”
Zenith Bank share price on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at N25.16 per share as at yesterday.
The bank’s total assets grew by 18 per cent, from N2.436 trillion to N2.878 trillion at the end of 2013, while shareholders’ funds rose eight per cent to N472.60 billion.